US Part III: Socialism With American Characteristics

The title of this post is a wordplay to compare with the “communism with chinese characteristics” or “capitalism with Asian values” that was pioneered in Singapore and taken to greater heights by the great reformator Deng Xiaopeng. What it really means, in practice, is authoritarian capitalism. Free from the shackles of labour laws, free spech etc., commanding respect with a strong state, China seems set on emerging as the new superpower (if they can fix the energy problem). American leaders must look on this country with envy, even though outwardly they show their disdain. Recall what George W. Bush said: “A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there’s no question about it.”

With this in mind, what are we to make of this?

The results mean that a number of the world’s major emerging economies have now matched or overtaken the USA in their enthusiasm for the free market. The Chinese and Brazilians, 67 per cent of whom regard the free market system as the best on offer, are now more positive about capitalism than Americans, while enthusiasm in India now equals that in the USA, with 59 per cent rating the free market as the best system for the future.

I think we should keep in mind what happened during the financial crisis. The response by Europe and America differed a bit. While Europe is like a good patient which takes its pills according to the doctor’s prescriptions morning, day and evening, America is like a junkie, constantly searching for the next thrill. The bailouts, contrary to popular belief, began during Bush’s presidency. The first proposed one unfortunately flopped because of a sort of rebellion within the Republican party, the results of which were to be expected. When Bush finally could vote through a bailout, the damage was already underway.

Misunderstand me correctly now. The bail-outs were a perverse reversal of the Robin Hood logic, taking from the poor and giving to the rich I fully agree with what Michael Moore when he said that the bail-outs were “the biggest robbery in the history of this country”. But, it would’ve been worse for all the workers if the banks had been allowed to fall. We can thus say that the bail-out was the right thing to do for the wrong reasons, while not bailing out the banks would’ve been the wrong thing to do for the right reasons.

We can use the popular mental mind-map Americans use: The contrast between Wall Street and Main Street. “Wall Street” here stands for financial capitalism while “Main Street” stands for the more “proper” market capitalism. As a communist, of course, I am equally critical of both. Anyway, in this mental mind map Wall Street is seen as a parasite on the fresh body of Main Street. What they don’t realize, however, is that while the interests of Wall Street and Main Street are not necessarily the same, if Wall Street turns ill Main Street will turn ill too.

The market fundamentalists/right-wing populists would’ve wanted the banks to flop – they think that it’s not that the free market has failed, it’s just that the market just wasn’t free enough, which is a perfect recipe to totalitarianism, and has nearly suicidal tendencies. These new critics of the free market, however, is what I’m most concerned about. The spirit is good, but the system critique is missing. They want to take money away from the “evil bankers” and give it to the poor. But, as I elaborated upon in the last paragraph, that isn’t possible in the current economic system, due to Main Street’s dependency on Wall Street. What one must question, of course, is what system makes such a dependency arise?

The reason I wanted to contrast socialism with American values with capitalism with Chinese values, is that the Chinese Communist party adopted capitalism to further stabilize their power. In the same way, I argue, American capital will have to adopt socialism, or at least socialist measures, in order to save its own ass. The most direct action is the bail-outs, but I would also argue that the new health care is an example of that. President Obama is the perfect man to do this, and I think he is better than McCain would be in keeping the Bush years’ legacy alive.

The modus operandi of socialism, one must realize, is to use the State in various ways to ensure the survival of capital – the socialists who claim otherwise do not comprehend the social character of it. This either comes in the form of the human face of capitalism characterized by social democratic regimes, or in the form of further State repression. There is a strange misconception that the State in laizzes faire capitalism would be “weak” – would they just let go of riots, demonstrations etc.? Capitalism does best when aided by strong autocratic State, no matter the illusions of neoliberal ideologists. China has understood that.

It thus appears as if America, and the rest of the world, stands at a cross road. Do they tread the path of upholding the status quo or picking up from where the civil rights movement left in the 60’s and 70’s? Do they tread the path of nationalism and exclusion or globalism and inclusion? A system where “freedom” actually means security, or a system interested with the equality and liberation of everyone? Socialism or communism? I know where my heart lies.


2 Responses to “US Part III: Socialism With American Characteristics”

  1. Blind Liberalism « Procrastination Embodied Says:

    […] what one is measuring. Is it economical performance, as many liberals are wont to do? As I have mentioned previously on the blog, China I think is very interesting. Through its “capitalism with Asian […]

  2. Angela Says:

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    So good to discover another person with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up.
    This site is something that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!

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